Orange is the New Black
5 stars - for many reasons
Having read the book this show is based on, I was a little less enthusiastic about season 1. I thought that it missed out on the real insidious horror of prison (at least for the first part of the season).
Not so with season 2. This season is grittier, uglier, realer, and ultimately desperate and awful.
The central character is Piper Chapman. She's based on the author of the book, Piper Kerman. Ms. Kerman is a stereotypical middle class career woman who did something stupid when she was in her twenties. That being, she was a drug money mule. Once. Just once. One stupid time. But when the feds finally catch up with her, there's no way out and she is sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Incarceration, friends, is a terrible thing, even in a lower security facility (as depicted in the show). The total loss of privacy, constant threat of getting caught up with the wrong crowd, boredom. And worse still, people with mental health issues, violent people, sharing space with folks who just made some really stupid mistakes. Prison isn't safe, it isn't sane, and in season 2, that's what the viewer sees.
This season also focuses more on the other inmates and shows some of their pre-prison stories. The main thing we learn is that prison is like real life Facebook. You just have no idea who you're really dealing with.
That's all good, but what makes Orange unique is that it is a show about women. A show about women without bogging things down with fashion, boyfriends, and stereotypical snarky behavior. There are all sorts; smart, not so smart, crazy, sane, sick, well, good, bad, old, young. All mixed together in a random stew of humanity.
Now, on a related topic...
So you know how sometimes you're watching a TV show or movie and saying to yourself "I KNOW that actress is familiar, but I can't place her." Two full seasons of this show and every time I saw the character Red, that was going through my head.
Yeah, I could have googled, but I save that as a last resort since I like to prove to myself I can still ignite dormant neural pathways.
And then it hit me...
It's Captain Janeway! Whoa! How weird is that?